Which edition of Ulysses?

A binder I know once told me that he has always wanted to bind James Joyce’s Ulysses, but didn’t know which edition or editions were suitable or affordable. I think I said I’d send him a list of editions. I’m almost positive I didn’t.

To make up for failing to fulfill a promise, I present this handy guide to editions of Ulysses:

  • Paris: Shakespeare and Co, 1922. First edition. 1000 copies in three limitations (all bound in Aegean blue wraps):
    • 100 were printed on Dutch handmade paper, numbered, and signed by Joyce
    • 150 large paper copies numbered 101- 250, printed on Vergé d’Arches, not signed
    • 750 were numbered 251-1000 and printed on a lesser grade of handmade paper, not signed
  • London: Egoist Press, 1922. Purportedly first edition printed in England (except that it was actually printed in Dijon for UK distribution). Pirated edition. 2000 copies.
  • New York: Roth, 1929. Except that it says no such thing on the title page. Pirated edition, unauthorized by Joyce. 2-3000 copies.
  • Hamburg/Paris/Bologna: The Odyssey Press, 1932. First hardcover edition. Printed on India paper.
  • New York: Random House, 1934
  • New York: Limited Editions Club, 1935. Illustrated by Henri Matisse. 1500 copies:
    • 250 signed by both Matisse and Joyce
    • remaining 1250 signed only by Matisse
  • London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1936. First authorized edition printed in England, designed by Eric Gill. 1000 copies in two limitations:
    • 100 copies on mould-made paper and bound in vellum, signed by Joyce
    • 900 copies on japon vellum and bound in green buckram, not signed

So here’s the problem: all of these editions are rare and expensive. I’d go with Random House without dust jacket. That one is probably the easiest to find and least expensive.

Forget what I said about follow-the-flag. Joyce is an exception. He was Irish, but spent most of his time in Paris and Trieste.

Happy hunting!

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3 Comments on “Which edition of Ulysses?”

  1. Later printings of the Shakespeare & Co. edition can be found, often without their wraps and thus in need of rebinding, at auction for quite reasonable prices, at least here in Britain.

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    • That’s true. However, they are not collectible in the same sense that I mean. They are inexpensive not only because they are lacking the wraps, but also collectors don’t really want a 6th printing of the first edition. It’s not considered an important edition.

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  2. And there is the superb Arion Press edition, with etchings by Robert Motherwell, although I believe it is now out of print.

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